Monday, August 1, 2011

El Ideal in Silay City -- Cuisine as Culture

How would you like to enjoy local delicacies, made from recipes handed down from generation to generation, in situ?

Negrenses far and wide would know just the place to do that. El Ideal is a bakery that has been around since the 1920s and is still housed in its original location -- a historic and protected mansion in Silay City (just one of this place's many gorgeous heritage buildings). Now that the airport has relocated from Bacolod to Silay City, El Ideal has become a very convenient stop in the culinary landscape of Negros.

You can't miss it -- this remarkably well preserved mansion sits right at the edge of the main road, Rizal St. and it's very near the city plaza. It's well marked with a sign that I am sure dates way back to when it was first established.

From its origins as a bakery, El Ideal has expanded to include a well lit dining area with some tables and chairs. There are still the old glass escaparates where the baked goods are displayed but now you can also order hot and cold drinks and even other Negrense delicacies like the popular lumpiang ubod, kalamay, even simple sandwiches.

It's a great place for merienda. Even locals can't get enough of El Ideal's homespun goodies.

I wanted to try as much as I could when we dropped by for a snack. I liked the meatless panara, deep fried with togue and potatoes -- oily but crisp and tasty. We also tried the baked chicken pie.

I always love trying the various kakanin that's native to any place I go to. At El Ideal, they had this really good suman, browned and sweetened with, what else -- muscovado sugar.

El Ideal makes great pies -- and I ordered a slice of each! A very delicate egg pie, an old fashioned pineapple pie that brought back memories of childhood panaderias, and surprisingly enough, a lattice topped buko pie that was very good -- even better than what you would find sold along the highways of Laguna. Who knew?
But, the piece de resistance of all their pies is of course the Guapple Pie -- an El Ideal original.
 Large locally sourced guapples made into the pinoy, or rather the Ilonggo version of apple pie. Much imitated but never equalled. El Ideal's guapple pie with its crusty top is a must pasalubong for Negrenses yearning for a taste of home.

And speaking of pasalubongs, El Ideal knows that the best souvenirs are the ones you can eat and enjoy. A portion of the place is devoted to racks and racks filled with all sorts of local biscuits, candies, pastries, breads, kakanin, etc. that you know are peculiar and unique to Negros.
Truly, local culture is deliciously experienced through culinary traditions.

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